There's a festive red holiday ribbon taped above the service window, right in front of the revolving wheel where, in seven days, the serving staff will be posting their tickets for the kitchen to cook up for patrons of Sosa's 39th Street Diner. Anthony Sosa has spent months - and many thousands of dollars - on the old Nichols Lunch location at 3906 Waddell (Fat City reported on his efforts last October) to return the venue to its former diner glory. The space was last occupied by Mama's 39th Street Diner, which closed earlier this year.
Sosa has already hired 40 employees to work in the kitchen and in the front of the house at his new restaurant, Sosa's 39th Street Diner. There were a dozen staffers cleaning, organizing and mopping up in the venue today. The kitchen is filled with shiny equipment - Sosa estimates he's spent $25,000 just on outfitting the kitchen with new deep-fryers, refrigerators and such - including a Lang flattop waiting to be used for frying bacon and eggs, and grilling burgers and onions and ribeye steaks.
The old booths have been freshly upholstered with new fabric, and every wall has been newly painted. There's a new service bar in the second dining room: The new Sosa's will serve liquor, a first for this historic building (there's been a diner in this spot for 91 years), for the customer who might want a bloody mary with his or her eggs Benedict on a Sunday morning.
"We'll have burritos, deep-fried tacos, enchiladas, flautas and tamales," Sosa says, "as well as lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, fettuccine Alfredo, grilled Italian sausage and Italian steaks."
When those deep fryers start bubbling, the kitchen crew will be making house-breaded onion strings, mushrooms and deep-fried pickles - all served with house-made sauces.
Sosa would like to return this building to a 24-hour dining destination but will begin by opening at 5 a.m. every day and staying open until 1:30 a.m. Monday-Wednesday and serving 24 hours Thursday-Sunday.